Former WNBA president Lisa Borders, who last fall stepped down from that post to become the first president and CEO of the women’s advocacy group TIME’S UP, will deliver Duke University's commencement address on Sunday, May 12, President Vincent E. Price announced Friday.
TIME’S UP works to create “safe, fair and dignified workplaces for women of all kinds,” according to the group’s website. Launched by a group of women in the entertainment industry on January 1, 2018, TIME’S UP has since grown to other industries and geographies, representing women of all kinds across race, religion and economic backgrounds. [Editor's Note: On Feb. 19, Borders announced that she was resigning from the post to address family concerns that require her focus.]
“We are so delighted that Lisa Borders will return to Duke as our commencement speaker,” Price said. “As the president and CEO of TIME’S UP, she is leading the way toward building a more just, equitable future for women, a mission that she has carried with her throughout her career in business, public service, philanthropy and the WNBA.
“Lisa also serves as a Duke trustee, and I have been honored to have her wise counsel over the past two years. I know that her lifetime of courageous, purposeful leadership will inspire our graduates as they set out on their own lives and careers.”
Price revealed Borders as this year’s speaker via an Instagram Story and online video during which the Duke community was given clues about the speaker’s identity and invited to submit their guesses. Instagram users can view the Instagram Stories version here.
Borders, a Duke graduate who currently serves on the university’s Board of Trustees, has roughly 30 years of experience in public, private and nonprofit sectors. As president of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) from 2016-18, she was responsible for developing the vision and overseeing the league’s day-to-day operations. She’s credited with accelerating the league’s growth, including its highest regular-season attendance in six years in 2017, and creating new ways for fans to engage with the league.
Prior to the WNBA, Borders was vice president of global community affairs at The Coca-Cola Co. and chair of The Coca-Cola Foundation. She also served as vice mayor of Atlanta and president of the Atlanta City Council during Mayor Shirley Franklin’s administration.
“I will forever be grateful to the university for the experiences and exposures I had there which helped me become who I am today,” Borders said. “Duke continues to play a tremendous role in my life and I am so honored to be returning to my alma mater to deliver this commencement address.”
In addition to being a Duke trustee, Borders serves on the advisory boards of Operation Hope, which promotes ﬁnancial dignity and inclusion for low- to moderate-income adults, and the Association of National Advertisers’ #SeeHer initiative, which ensures the positive portrayal of women and girls in the media. Borders also chairs the Borders Commission for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).
“I’m really excited because I think it is important -- as President Price mentioned -- to have a woman come and speak,” said Anya Bali, a Duke senior from Hartsville, S.C. “I was lucky enough to hear her speak to Business Oriented Women a few years ago, and she is so engaging, funny and exciting to hear from. She really has lived a life of courage and a life that speaks to changes and achievement and a lot of things that I think will resonate with Duke graduates.”
Travis Dauwalter, president of Duke’s Graduate and Professional Student Council, added, “We are delighted that Lisa Borders was chosen as commencement speaker. I’ve known her and met her only briefly as part of my work and her work on the Board of Trustees, and she’s a wonderful choice who will do a fantastic job.”
Borders earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke in 1979, and a master’s degree in health administration from the University of Colorado.
Commencement exercises are in Wallace Wade Stadium and open to the public. More information about Duke’s commencement ceremony is available at: https://commencement.duke.edu/.